Friday, September 28, 2012

Online Survey

I would really appreciate your support in filling out the online questionnaire by asking colleagues and friends within your reach to give their opinions. It could be done in any one of the three languages, English, Arabic, or French, whichever is convenient.

This campaign is proceeding, and we still need samples from Lebanon, especially in the non-IT sectors.

Thank you again for you help, and I hope we could meet sometime in the very near future to discuss ways of cooperation.

Dr. Walid P. Karam, PhD
Coordinator | | University of Balamand | Al-Kurah, Lebanon
Tel/Fax: +(961) (0) 6 930 250 x 3894   |    Cel: +(961) (0) 3 246 066
Skype: walidkaram | magicJack: +1(409)356-5757 | Twitter: @WalidKaram
Email:      |       Web:

Research Survey: A questionnaire on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in the Arab World

Knowledge, usage, and needs

Ma3bar is kindly inviting you to fill out the questionnaire that is available via

This questionnaire aims at gauging your views about the current status of Free & Open Source Software in the Arab region with the view of spreading awareness and promoting its adoption.

This questionnaire is part of a research conducted by a regional research team affiliated with the Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D) at the School of Business of the American University in Cairo, in collaboration with Ma3bar, the Arab Support Center for Free & Open Source Software at the University of Balamand, Al-Kurah, Lebanon.

Your opinion is vital for the success of this research and will be treated in the strictest confidence within the ethical code of practice for field research at the American University in Cairo; thus the information gathered will solely be used to compile statistics. No data about you as an individual will be disclosed in any published results.

Enquête Recherche: Un Questionnaire sur le Logiciel Libre et Open Source (FOSS) dans le monde arabe
Connaissance, utilisation et besoins

Ma3bar vous invite à bien vouloir remplir le questionnaire qui est disponible sur

Ce questionnaire vise à évaluer votre point de vue sur l'état actuel des logiciels libres dans la région arabe en vue de propager la sensibilisation et la promotion de son adoption.

Ce questionnaire fait partie d'une recherche menée par l'équipe de recherche régionale affiliée au centre "Access to Knowledge for Development" (A2K4D) à l'École de Gestion de l'université américaine du Caire, en collaboration avec Ma3bar, le centre de soutien arabe des logiciels libres et open source à l'Université de Balamand, El-Koura, Liban.

Votre avis est essentiel pour la réussite de cette recherche et sera traitée dans la plus stricte confidentialité dans le code éthique des chercheurs à l'université américaine au Caire. Toutes informations recueillies seront exclusivement utilisées pour compiler des statistiques. Aucune des données personnelles ne sera divulgué dans les résultats publiés.

بحث إستطلاعي: استمارة البرمجيات الحرّة ومفتوحة المصدر في العالم العربي
المعرفة، الاستخدام، والاحتياجات

يدعوكم معبر لملء الإستمارة المتوفّرة على الموقع

تهدف هذه الاستمارة الى تبيان رأيكم حول الوضع الراهن للبرمجيات الحُرّة ومفتوحة المصدر في الوطن العربي بهدف نشر الوعي وتشجيع اعتمادها.

هذه الإستمارة هي جزء من البحث الذي يقوم به فريق الأبحاث الإقليمي التابع لمركز "المعرفة من أجل التنمية" في كلية إدارة الأعمال في الجامعة الأميركية في القاهرة، بالتعاون مع "مَعْبَر"، المركز العربي لدعم البرمجيّات الحُرّة ومفتوحة المصدر في جامعة البلمند، الكورة، لبنان.

ان وجهات نظركم مهمة جداً لنجاح هذا البحث العلمي وسوف يتم معالجتها في سرية تامة بحسب القوانين الأخلاقية والسلوكية المعتمدة للبحث الميداني في الجامعة الأميركية في القاهرة. لذا سوف تستعمل البيانات المجمَّعة لغايات احصائية فقط دون ذكر أسماء المشتركين في أي حال من الأحوال

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Why microblog


How is different from TwitterJaikuPlurk and other similar microblogging services? is based on the StatusNet software (formerly called, which is freely available for download and install, and may be used by other websites for creating their own microblogging services.  is an open network service. Our main goal is to provide a fair and transparent service that preserves users' autonomy. In particular, all the software used for is free software, and all the data is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, making it open data.
The software also implements the OStatus protocol, meaning that you can have friends on other microblogging services that can receive your notices and reply back to your service.
The goal here is autonomy — you deserve the right to manage your own online presence. If you don't like how works, you can take your data and the source code and set up your own service (or move your account to another one).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

European Commission Deploys Crack Computer Emergency Response Team (09/12/12) Alastair Stevenson

The European Commission (EC) announced that it has deployed its anti-hacker Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-EU) on a permanent basis to combat the growing number of cyberthreats it faces.  CERTs are increasingly common within private and public sector organizations, and the European Union (EU) chose to test the use of CERTs to help protect its parliament, commission, and council organizations from increasing cyberthreats.  "It is a very successful example of what the EU institutions can achieve when they work together," says EU vice president Maros Sefcovic. "We want our CERT to be among the best, closely cooperating with the rest of the CERT community and contributing to cybersecurity for all."  The EC has urged other member state governments to follow its example and create their own CERTs.  "Cybersecurity is a priority for Europe's welfare and competitiveness," says EC's Neelie Kroes.  "The EU institutions can now count on a permanent CERT to deal with increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats against them."

IT Certifications That Mean Higher Pay, September 6
Certifications not only show the IT industry employers, peers and recruiters that you are up to date and knowledgeable on a given topic -- they also can lead to increased earnings. Based on the results from the latest quarterly IT Skills Demand and Pay Trends Report, it's possible to see which of the many IT certifications out there can lead to higher pay. With more and more companies holding out for the IT pro who has the perfect skills, candidates who possess these certifications are getting paid a premium over what others in the same role without the certification are receiving. Additional monetary compensation tied specifically to an IT certification can range from 8% to 16%, depending on employer need and marketplace trends.
The certifications in the first category come with a premium skills pay of 8-13% of base salary. Many of these certifications fall into the intermediate range and are accessible to the average IT person. These include a mix of security certifications, such as Red Hat Certified Architect, and Architecture/Project Management/Process Certifications, such as Microsoft Certified Architect. They also include several Database Certifications; Networking and Communications Certifications (e.g. Cisco Certified Design Professional); and Systems Administration & Engineering Certifications.
People with certifications in the second category earned an impressive premium skills pay of 10-15%. Occupying eight out of these 12 slots in this category are Security Certifications, such as Certified Information Security Manager. With the myriad of malicious threats facing companies, it's no surprise that IT security is an area that is expected to have tremendous growth. Others in the 10-15% category include Architecture/Project Management/Process Certifications and Database Certifications. The final category highlights Architecture and Project Management certifications, reporting in with a premium skills pay of 12-16%. With the rapid pace that the IT industry moves at, it's no wonder these certifications are currently demanding the highest pay. These include Certifications such as Open Group Master Architect and Project Management Professional.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Games goes open

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Secure Boot vs Restricted Boot

When done correctly, "Secure Boot" is designed to protect against malware by preventing computers from loading unauthorized binary programs when booting. In practice, this means that computers implementing it won't boot unauthorized operating systems -- including initially authorized systems that have been modified without being re-approved.
This could be a feature deserving of the name, as long as the user is able to authorize the programs she wants to use, so she can run free software written and modified by herself or people she trusts. However, we are concerned that Microsoft and hardware manufacturers will implement these boot restrictions in a way that will prevent users from booting anything other than Windows. In this case, we are better off calling the technology Restricted Boot, since such a requirement would be a disastrous restriction on computer users and not a security feature at all.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Open Source Education Software Unveiled by Google
(09/13/12) Adario Strange

Google has released Course Builder, open source software for creating online education courses. Google says Course Builder does not require high-level programming skills and should be accessible to anyone with the ability to build and maintain their own Web site. "The Course Builder open source project is an experimental early step for us in the world of online education," says Google research director Peter Norvig. "It is a snapshot of an approach we found useful and an indication of our future direction." Norvig says Google researchers plan to directly interact with Course Builder users via Google Hangouts over the next two weeks. A support site has been launched, and the free software download has already received its first update. Google also is offering the Course Builder Checklist as a primer on how to get started and what to expect. "We hope to continue development along these lines, but we wanted to make this limited code base available now, to see what early adopters will do with it, and to explore the future of learning technology," Norvig says.

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New Software Helps Reveal Patterns in Space and Time

ASU News
(09/10/12) Barbara Trapido-Lurie

Researchers at Arizona State University's GeoDa Center for Geographical Analysis & Computation say they have made significant enhancements to their OpenGeoDa software. OpenGeoDa is an open source program that offers a user-friendly interface to implement techniques for exploratory spatial data analysis and spatial modeling. Version 1.2.0 facilitates space-time analysis, with maps and charts that enable users to track changes in spatial patterns over time. "For example, a series of maps could plot variations in educational achievement by school district, for a series of years," says Arizona State professor Luc Anselin. "An individual map would show clusters of high and low achievement; but adding the dimension of time makes it possible to assess the effect of a policy intervention, by comparing both achievement levels and spatial clusters, before and after the intervention." OpenGeoDa version 1.2.0 also can now provide a real-time link between maps, graphs, and statistical summaries of the same data set. Anselin notes the center's signature software has more than 75,000 users around the world and is freely downloadable. He says OpenGeoDa, first released in 2003, has been used to study everything from health care access and economic development to crime clusters.

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Friday, September 7, 2012

EdX Offers Proctored Exams for Open Online Course

Chronicle of Higher Education (09/06/12) Marc Parry
A free open online course offered through edX now provides an option for students to have a proctored final exam to validate their learning.  The nonprofit venture will allow students to take online exams supervised by the Pearson VUE service, with passing students receiving certificates of proctored exam completion.  EdX president Anant Agarwal says the proctoring option would significantly add to the value of the certificates.  "[Employers and institutions] certainly feel much more comfortable with proctored certificates, because these really reflect the students' own work," he notes.  This development comes as the debate over academic integrity in the offering of massive open online courses heats up.  Harvard, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will offer seven courses through edX in the fall.  The proctored testing option will be provided for one course.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide by LDP

The tutorial assumes no previous knowledge of scripting or programming, but progresses rapidly toward an intermediate/advanced level of instruction . . . all the while sneaking in little nuggets of UNIX® wisdom and lore. It serves as a textbook, a manual for self-study, and a reference and source of knowledge on shell scripting techniques. The exercises and heavily-commented examples invite active reader participation, under the premise that the only way to really learn scripting is to write scripts.
This book is suitable for classroom use as a general introduction to programming concepts.

Follow the link : Advanced Bash Scripting

Visual Programming Means Anyone Can Be a Coder

New Scientist
(08/29/12) Douglas Heaven
New York University programmer Toby Schachman has developed Recursive Drawing, an experimental programming interface that enables coders to incrementally build complex, fractal-like structures. The interface allows users to manipulate the underlying source code by dragging parts of the patterns around. Schachman says the ideas behind the interface could change the way programming is performed in the future. He says there would be no need to be concerned about changing the underlying code, because "the form that you're working in resembles the thing that you're creating." Although there is still a major gap between writing the text and seeing what the running program does, "bringing in graphical ideas like Schachman does can definitely reduce this gap," says Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium researcher Peter van Roy. Recursive Drawing is part of a trend that will help democratize programming, predicts City University in London researcher Sara Jones. "It opens up the process of programming to a broader community of people, including artists, architects, and designers, for whom the unnecessary translation of ideas into text may constitute a frustrating and unwelcome block to the flow of creative ideas," Jones says.
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Software Meant to Fight Crime Is Used to Spy on Dissidents

New York Times
(08/31/12) Nicole Perlroth

Sophisticated, commercially available spyware originally designed to aid in criminal investigations is being used by repressive regimes to track political dissidents, according to evidence turned up by Google engineer Morgan Marquis-Boire and computer science Ph.D. student Bill Marczak. The software, FinSpy, can capture computer screen images, record chats on Skype, log keystrokes, and avoid detection by popular antivirus programs. Research has tied FinSpy to servers in more than 12 countries, although no government has admitted to using the software for the purpose of surveillance. FinSpy's maker, U.K.-based Gamma Group, says it sells monitoring software to governments for criminal surveillance only, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Eva Galperin notes monitoring dissidents is a typical application of the spyware in countries "where the rule of law is not so strong." Marquis-Boire and Marczak's analysis of suspicious emails sent to Bahraini activists uncovered spyware in the emails that reported back to the same Bahrain-based command-and-control server, and the apparent use of the software for activist surveillance suggested broader utilization. FinSpy was found to be operating in 10 other countries, and Marquis-Boise says in one instance the software was running on a Turkmenistan server.

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